Burmese Star Tortoise Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name: Burmese Star Tortoise
Scientific Name: Geochelone platynota
Life Span: 30 to 80 years or more
Size: 12 inches, females larger
Habitat: Dry deciduous forests
Country of Origin: Myanmar

Physical Description

The Burmese Star Tortoise is an animal with very impressive colors and features. It is not like other tortoises that you know because it can stand tall and walk with confidence. However, because of the strong demand for this tortoise, it is now classified as critically endangered by the IUCN.

The IUCN had very little information about the Burmese Star Tortoise and was classified as an insufficiently known status. Over collection for the pet trade as well as for human consumption has destroyed the number of this tortoise in the wild.

This tortoise is also known as the flat-backed tortoise because of its large carapace with flattened vertebral scutes. This has resulted in a broad, slightly-domed shape compared to other tortoises. The color of the shell is brown and black while some lovely specimens in warm caramel colors.

Each scute on the shell has flower-petal-like striations, and when you view the shell from the top, you’ll find a netted, symmetrical pattern. The Burmese Star has six points from the striation on every scute. The pattern on the carapace is from the points of each striation that join at the seams.

The plastron is yellow but with dark triangular areas. These areas point to each other along the mid seam. The head is large and yellow. Female Burmese Star Tortoises are larger and can surpass 12 inches regularly.  

Life Span

Burmese Star Tortoise have three stages of development: hatchlings, juveniles, and adults


Hatchlings saree large weighing 6 to 12 grams and already robust after these have hatched from their eggs. These will quickly eat their first meal and will usually overeat. The babies have a golden yellow color, and the unique black marks on the shells are seen. The shells are round, heads are round with black eyes, and the legs are already steady and able to move about.


Juveniles look very much like their parents, and their colors have softened a little. They are very voracious eaters and will eat almost anything you feed them. These juveniles have a lot of energy but are not as huge as adult tortoises.


Adults have round shells, taller and rounder limbs,  and dull-colored shells compared to hatchlings and juveniles.

Eating Habits

Burmese Star Tortoises eat in the morning and more in the evening. These won’t leave their hides unless it’s dusk to graze around and eat. After eating, these will return to their hides to sleep. The best time to offer food is during the afternoons, late afternoon when the tortoises are eager to eat.

Young tortoises will prefer a variety of greens like chicory, clover, dandelion, mulberry, squash, cactus pads, kale, collard greens, and hibiscus flowers.

Add calcium to your pet’s food with cuttlebone. Females will gnaw on cuttlebone during the egg-laying season. Calcium powder may also be used, and this is sprinkled on food. 

Sleeping Habits

Burmese Star Tortoise has a very regular daily schedule, which starts with feeding and basking. Usually, after eating, these will find a comfortable, safe spot and sleep. In the wild, you may find several tortoises in the same spot.


Burmese Star Tortoises can live on land an in shallow water where aquatic plants are available. Water habitats should be from 35 to 105 cm deep. If you were to keep a Burmese Star Tortoise in captivity, an outdoor enclosure with a small pond is a good idea. Add water plants in the pool so that your turtle/s can feed on these plants. If you want to care for your turtle indoors, create an indoor enclosure with a water feature.

Development, Reproduction, and Breeding

Burmese Star Tortoises breed before October and lay their eggs until February. At this time, they deposit multiple clutches, so expect a bunch of babies if the breeding phase is flawless. The eggs will do well on a quick cooling phase to break the diapause, and after oviposition, these are removed from the egg box, cleaned, and placed on a dry material like vermiculite.

Use plastic cups to house each egg. A wine cooler would work best as an incubator. Leave it at 65 degrees for 30 days, with the humidity at 70 to 80%. After 30 days, the eggs will be placed in a new cup with holes on the lids and moistened material. These will be transferred to an incubator with a temperature of 86 to 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of 80 to 90% These eggs will hatch cute baby Burmese Star Tortoises in just 88 to 100 days.

Baby Burmese Star Tortoises are large and robust and will accept their first food. These will grow very fast. You can keep these hatchlings in a tub with a flipped food container as their home. The tub should be lined with sphagnum moss. Remember to place adequate space where the tortoises can eat and drink water. Constant hydration is important for the survival of Burmese Star Tortoise hatchlings.

Common Health Problems

Burmese Star Tortoise may occasionally suffer from health issues. So, for any health concerns, consult a vet for the right treatment. 


This is any kind of swelling or any tumor on any part of the tortoise’s body. The most common sites for abscesses are the eyes and the opening of the ear. Usually, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of abscesses in most cases.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency results in skin changes, poor appetite, swelling of the eye, ears and the lids,  respiratory conditions, and lethargy. Feed your turtle a vitamin A-rich diet or provide supplements of vitamin A.


Bouts of diarrhea and weight loss may be due to intestinal parasites. Roundworms are the most common in turtles, and this must be treated ASAP. Usually, turtles don’t show any symptoms and only diarrhea and weight loss until it’s too late. So as early as you see these symptoms, take your tortoise to the vet.

Turtle injuries

Burmese Star Tortoises are larger compared to other turtles and thus are kept in an outdoor enclosure. As sit stays with the company of other tortoises, it can be prone to many kinds of injuries. A turtle may fall and break its shell and, it may suffer from serious injuries. For any injury, your pet should be taken to the vet at once.

If you see the injury on the eyes, nose, or the head and bleeding, visit the vet. If there is vomiting, loose stools, or blood, take your pet to the vet to avoid dehydration, blood loss, and other metabolic problems.

Respiratory Infections

Burmese Star Tortoises can suffer from respiratory conditions because of bacteria and vitamin A deficiency. Signs of respiratory conditions include open-mouth breathing, wheezing, poor appetite, and lethargy. You may also notice a discharge coming from the nose, which is a sign that it needs medical treatment.

Shell Problems

Shell problems are usually due to bacterial or viral infections and fungi. When these are overlooked, the shells can crack and lead to fractures. Females may suffer from shell problems after aggressive mating. And because of these, you must watch out for physical injuries as well as bleeding, abscess, and poor healing.

Preventing Illness

The best way to avoid illness is to maintain cleanliness. Change the water in the tank at least once a  week. Use a powerful water filter to efficiently clean the water in the tank and change the filter in the equipment often.

Use a powerful disinfectant to clean the tortoise enclosure. You may also use warm water. Change the water to avoid the growth of bacteria. Remove food remnants in the tank and any poop. Remember that turtles may poop in the water, so you must be very diligent in cleaning the enclosure. You must spot clean every once in a while.

You must take your turtle to the vet for regular checkups. Burmese Star Tortoises are critically endangered creatures, and thus, any medical condition must be consulted right away. Never overlook any kind of health condition to prevent any dangerous illness.

Future of the Burmese Star Tortoise

The Burmese Star Tortoise’s future is unknown. Despite the efforts of organizations in breeding and reintroducing these tortoises in the wild, the numbers do not improve because of illegal poaching.

There is possibly hope for those breeding in captivity as reptile enthusiasts continue to reap breeding successes. This species could become prolific provided breeding conditions are followed strictly.


Very little is known about the behavior of Burmese Star Tortoises, but the following information can help you better understand what your pet is telling you.  

Loves to be with other tortoises

In almost all photographs of the Burmese Star Tortoise, all the family members and members of the clutch eat together, graze together, and even sleep together.

Naturally friendly tortoise

The Burmese Star Tortoise is very intelligent and can learn how to distinguish its owner or handler. The key is to take time to get to know your pet and to handle it early so it can learn to trust you better.

Turtles and tortoises can also drown

Tortoises can remain underwater for a long time but may also drown. Turtles need to come up for air to breathe, but if they cannot come up for any reason, they can drown.

If you suspect drowning, do not turn it upside down because there may still be air left inside their lungs. Doing this can reduce their chances of recuperating. To revive a drowning turtle, place it on a flat surface and perform a simple turtle CPR.

Gently hold its two front legs and push in and out the r shell. If there is water in the lungs, this can remove water out. Water may come out of its mouth and nose. After reviving your pet, take it to a vet.


Burmese Star Tortoises are easy to the house but need a lot of space. These don’t hibernate; they can tolerate cold weather or hot environments.

An indoor enclosure measuring 8 x 4 feet is a good size for a home. For this size, only two adults can fit here. Males and females are kept apart and are only introduced occasionally.

Use cypress mulch as substrates, preferably with a depth of 12 inches. Male and female enclosures are the same, but the females have a nesting box. This should be placed under a basking light.

When kept outdoors, the enclosure must measure at least 12 x 20 feet for a group of tortoises. Use timer to construct the walls of this enclosure. Avoid any gaps because your tortoises can escape. Build a small greenhouse that will serve as the tortoises home. This must be easily accessible.

Place this outdoor pen in a sunlit area of your backyard and on well-drained soil. Areas that accumulate water and are soaked after rain is not a good area to build an enclosure.


Tortoises, like other reptiles, cannot control their body temperatures and need efficient lighting. So for this tortoise, use a full-spectrum UV lamp and a basking heating lamp inside the enclosure. There are many types of lamps, but the best has to be an incandescent light to shine brighter and warmer. 

Your lighting must be adjustable with temperature adjustments and height adjustments. You should never overlook lighting since low temperatures can affect your tortoise’s health.


Use a reliable filter that will efficiently clean tank water if your tank has an indoor water area. The tank water can become dirty quickly if you have more than one turtle inside the tank. Remember to have a battery-powered backup filtration unit in case of power outages. Consider spot cleaning water inside the enclosure because Burmese Star Tortoises may poop in the water. 

Tank Accessories

Keep the tortoise enclosure simple and clean. Do not place any décor that can injure your pet. The tank needs water, soil, sand, and rocks where the turtle can sit on and bask. Also, females with eggs need more loose soil inside the tank since she needs soil to lay her eggs safely.


Keep the tank clean to prevent the spread of parasites. Small tortoises may spread Salmonella and other diseases. Salmonella is a dangerous bacteria that can cause diarrhea, vomiting in humans. Clean the tank regularly, especially if you have more than one turtle in the tank.

You must use a good disinfectant to clean the tank well. You may use warm water and soap. Just rinse the tank completely. If you are keeping your tortoises in an enclosure, brush the floors and walls and use a hose to rinse everything. Wash your hands or wear protective gear when cleaning an enclosure. Make sure everything is dry and ready before you place your pet inside the tank. Use paper towels to dry the tank and its accessories.

Availability – Where to Get One?

Burmese Star Tortoise is currently listed as an endangered species. Therefore, any sale of these animals is illegal. But despite this, the sale of this tortoise continues in exotic pet shops and pet stores. If you want to help stop pet trade, adopt a turtle from a friend and never buy from traders, pet shops, or exotic reptile stores.

How to Care for a Burmese Star Tortoise?

Here are some tips on how to care for a Burmese Star Tortoise

  • Before and after handling a Burmese Star Tortoise, wash your hands to avoid the spread of Salmonella and other dangerous diseases. Burmese Star Tortoises may be affected by parasites, and proper handwashing and wearing protective clothing can prevent the spread of parasites to other pets.
  • This turtle will not mind being handled a lot as long as it has experienced this early in its life. Be careful and never drop them or place them in a cold environment.
  • Burmese Star Tortoises may roam the yard or outdoors as long as you remain in the yard to protect it. You can use a small cage which you can take anywhere.
  • Always monitor the temperature of the tank or enclosure and keep the tank’s temperature perfect by using a reptile lamp when there’s no sunlight.
  • Ensure the health of your turtles by taking it to a vet regularly. Do this more when your pet is young and during its senior years. 
  • Monitor your pet for any problems like respiratory and shell conditions.
  • If you have new turtles, don’t immediately place these in the tank or enclosure. Place these under quarantine to rule out any diseases for a few weeks before you allow it to join your turtles in the tank.
  • Always feed your turtle the right kind of food. This will avoid deficiencies and infections. Consult a vet for the best kind of food according to your turtle’s stage of development.

FAQ Section

How many Burmese Star Tortoises are left?

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the population of this animal has grown to more than 14,000 in Myanmar. There may be hope to the ecologically-extinct tortoise species when captive breeding is considered.

Why is the Burmese Star Tortoise endangered?

The Burmese Star Tortoise is endangered because there is not enough of this tortoises in the wild. It is currently classified by the IUCN as critically endangered.

Where does the Burmese Star Tortoise live?

The Burmese Star Tortoise lives in the dry, deciduous paradise forests of Myanmar. It is a critically endangered species of tortoise due to poorly-controlled trade in the country.

How do you tell the age of a star tortoise?

You can tell the age of a star tortoise by selecting a scute to count. Count the rings on the scutes; the rings will alternate between narrow rings of one color to the wider ring of another color. Time to estimate the turtle’s age.

Do tortoises like the Burmese Star Tortoise love to be handled?

Yes, tortoises will love being petted and cared for by its owner or handler. There are sensations felt on the shell, but the head and neck are the best places to pet it. Also, frequent handling will help your tortoise adjust to being handled by other people, not just its owner.

Do Burmese Star Tortoises recognize their owners?

Some breeders and handlers say that they do recognize their handlers and may sometimes follow them around. These tortoises will also know when feeding time is and if their handlers are loading their trays food or someone else.

Do tortoises feel lonely?

Tortoises don’t feel lonely, and in fact, these are solitary animals. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish allows only one tortoise per household, and having more than one violates this law.

Why are star tortoises illegal to buy?

Star tortoises are already included in the IUCN list of endangered species, and so trade, buying, and selling of this tortoise species are illegal.

How do I know if my tortoise is male or female?

You can tell the difference by the notch in the shell at the underside of the tortoise just under the tail. Males have V-shaped notches while females have a U shaped notch. The size of the tortoise may also vary, and mostly, females are bigger than males.

How do I know if my tortoise is healthy?

There are many indicators that your turtle is healthy and happy. It should be warm enough to do his daily activities; the top shell must be firm, smooth and no injuries, it must have healthy eyes,

Do you turn off the heating lamp of a tortoise at night?

At night, tortoises like the Burmese Star Tortoise need a reduced temperature and darkness, so you must turn the heating lamp off.

Do tortoises bite humans?

Yes, some breeders and handlers report captive tortoises biting their handlers. The bite could be very painful and should be checked by a doctor right away. The most common parts bitten by tortoises are the fingers and hands of handlers while feeding.

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